We have updated our Privacy Notice, you can read the updated document here
Mods please check the Moderators Group for an important update on Mod tools. If you do not have access to the group, please PM Niamh. Thanks!

Did the .50 Cal change the game in NI?

«1

Comments

  • #2


    OK Let me try to kick it off.
    The US military commissioned a report after the 2003 invasion of Iraq into what equipment worked and what didn't: The .50 cal sniper rifle was categorised in "worked" and they found it's use spread terror and confusion among the insurgents.
    The landmines planted in the 70's forced HM forces to deploy from helicopters, which worked well until Col Gaddafi supplied large calibre Russian machine guns (and non-functioning anti-aircraft missiles). If you watched the film Charlie Wilson's War, you will see the significance of these.
    I just think this is something that needs to be explored in the context of History.


  • #2


    yubabill1 wrote: »
    Remember soldiers refusing to go out on patrol for fear of snipers or helicopters making "forced landings"? Discuss.

    That is a very broad statement to discuss.

    Perhaps you could provide evidence for both events taking place.


  • #2


    Ok, clearly you don't remember these reports and I am working from memory.
    I am talking about late 80's early 90's wrt the sniping and early 90's till about 93 wrt heli forced landings.
    I may be wrong, but I think one made a forced landing on a gaa pitch in Armagh at that time, too.
    There seemed to be an inordinate number of forced landings in the time indicated and only in NI.


  • #2


    So, where is the connection with 50 cal guns. There are any number of reasons for unplanned landings and because a landing is flagged as "emergency" does not necessarily mean it is one.
    No evidence, no discussion!!


  • #2


    Mister, if you had ears and eyes around the time I talk about, you would know.
    Talk to someone who followed the news around then and i would advise you brush up on your ballistics knowledge before talking to me again.


  • #2


    Keep following the news as they are well known as being the purveyors of truth and are also well connected to the military.

    Take to someone who has first hand knowledge of what happened there and how many "emergency" landings were just that. But if believe the tales in news, good for you.


  • #2


    I was going to engage with you on this but I am of the opinion you are a troll and wont waste anymore time on you.
    You other contributions to boards.ie are equally as bland and have no substance.


  • #2


    You really should read the op. I am asking a question which you are not qualified to answer.
    Btw I contribute to a host of scientific forums on linkedin, where no doubt you will wish me to return and where, at least my comments are treated with a modicum of respect. We have trolls there, too, you know.
    I don't know if rte news footage is available from the period and I might look it up when I get time.
    Ps I am well known to a few national journalists, who value my opinion and who have used them in ground-breaking work, which I will not bore you with; just in case you think I do not appreciate the nuances of journalism.
    Pps my sources are not journo-related: I have good contacts on all 3 sides wrt NI.


  • #2


    You seem to know a lot about my qualifications all of a sudden!!!!!!!!

    You still have not provided any evidence to support anything you have said, just more rhetoric.
    maybe you are not a troll but something worse, a journo in disguise.

    I have no issue with anything you say, i would prefer if you would back it with some evidence.
    Until then it is just waffle


  • #2


    Have googled "sniper kill northern ireland" and this looks good at very quick perusal

    http://www.eliteukforces.info/special-air-service/sas-operations/ira-sniper-team/

    Will be back with a lesser link from The Independent newspaper


  • #2


    Here is the other result from my quick trawl

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/sniper-kills-soldier-in-border-attack-1485630.html

    Less specific, I agree.

    i also categorically remember a ford fiesta car recovered with a 0.50 cal sniper rifle welded into the back of it, capable of firing when the rear hatch was opened and also a very poorly-stocked 0.50 cal rifle was recovered and exhibited; struck me as extremely uncomfortable to shoot and likely the stock wrist could break in the process.
    The rifles were often abandoned after a kill.

    PS No, not a journo, but I do write to them.


  • #2


    Need some time to get heli forced landings- sheer volume. Don't think anybody died, so it's going to be tricky. from what I have seen, reports prioritised when fatalities occurred.


  • #2


    For the helis, some circumstantial data is all I have for now. It's buried deep.

    http://federal-circuits.vlex.com/vid/clark-quigley-christina-leigh-reid-38450345

    "Between 1981 and 1986, Johnson wrote and sent a series of letters regarding the procurement and development of remote-control bombs to Peter Eamon Maguire, an electronic systems expert in the Republic of Ireland who is named a defendant in this case, see supra note 1. The letters ("the Clondalkin letters") describe Johnson's efforts to perfect the technology of the remote-control bombs that have been used by the PIRA in its attacks upon persons and property in Northern Ireland and elsewhere since 1972.[fn2] In 1987 the Irish national police seized these letters from a hiding place in Maguire's home in Clondalkin, Dublin.

    Appellant Martin Peter Quigley is a citizen of the Republic of Ireland and a United States resident. Like Johnson, he has been involved in ongoing efforts to improve the technology of PIRA weaponry. In December 1988, in a conversation over a pay telephone, Quigley solicited Johnson's advice regarding the development of a surface-to-air missile system to "counteract" British military helicopters in Northern Ireland. Between 1988 and 1989, Quigley regularly encouraged appellant Christina Leigh Reid to join an amateur rocketry society and familiarize herself with the construction and operation of rocket motors for use in the anti-helicopter missile system. In the summer of 1989, Quigley participated in the acquisition of a .50 caliber rifle for export to the Republic of Ireland".

    Will dig again.


  • #2


    The OP is talking about the deployment of a "Sniper" team/s by PIRA in south armagh in the early 1990's who were armed with Barrett .05 rifles and used a car (a mazda if i recall correctly) with a hole cut in the boot and a drop down number plate.

    Was it a game changer?

    Psychologically it was a problem and soldiers were allegedly disciplined over refusing to carry out patrols or the fabrication of patrols they were assigned to carry out.

    The 0.5/12.7 round is normally used against aircraft, soft skinned vehicles and light armour for the purpose of carrying out a mobility kill - nothings going anywhere if there's a round through the engine block.

    There was wild speculation about the identity of the snipers and the tabloids had a field day with all kinds of fanciful stories, none of them close to the truth. The republican media for obvious reasons encouraged these stories. Part of the psychological fear of the 0.5 rifles was that in theory as a British soldier you could be plodding along and wham, your buddy could explode in a welter of blood and guts and the sniper could be firing from outside the range in which you could engage them (incidentally now a problem in Afghanistan) as most assault rifles are effective up to 300m (as individual firers).

    Similarly body armour was for the most no good either (and still isn't) most modern kevlar body armour will only stop pistol rounds and the plates commonly used by most military forces will only stop what the majority of their enemies use - for NATO thats typically 7.62 russian rounds. Body armour that can protect against rounds like the 0.5 is exceptionally heavy and restricts its wearer to largely static roles and isn't commonly issued. Of course if the round strikes anywhere other than the plate, the wearer is also in severe trouble as round will easily penetrate soft armour.

    Having said all that

    The PIRA teams weren't snipers in the classical sense, they were carrying out attacks well within range of standard infantry weapons 5.56 and 7.62 NATO rounds and relied on a system of "dickers" and clever concealment in their car. Had they fired at an inopportune moment or been spotted then they would have been in trouble.

    However, one must look at what was going on behind the scenes as both sides were sending out the feelers towards a negotiated settlement or ceasfire at least. Furthermore it might be noted that these incidents of ill discipline were few and there was no widespread breakdown of military discipline in British forces deployed on the border area.

    The British Army have always been content to loose people on training accidents and on operations, Northern Ireland was no exception and loosing a few enlisted men and junior officers would have not bothered them.


  • #2


    At last!

    Well argued, neilled.

    My heli argument has been strongly denied by the HM source I talked to.....


  • #2


    yubabill1 wrote: »
    At last!

    Well argued, neilled.

    My heli argument has been strongly denied by the HM source I talked to.....

    If i recall correctly the team fired at the Royal Naval vessel in carlingford.... and missed. Sweet FA chance of them hitting a helicopter moving in the way the army air corps were trained to do, to minimise the chances of being shot down.

    A more real threat to rotary wing aviation would have been the use of the Libyan supplied Dshk machine guns to bring down a helicopter (this was tried and failed) or the acquisition or building of a modern SAM system with sufficient quantities of missiles which also failed. If UK forces had lost control of the skies it could well have been a game changer.

    Regardless of the entry of this new weapon into the mix, during the late 1980's both sides had came to the realisation that a purely military victory was going to be impossible and it was only a matter of time before an attempt at a ceasefire or settlement would have to be made.


  • #2


    I remember there was a lot of speculation about the capability of DSHK users. They apparently developed an ambush technique, waiting for helis to land or take off. Technique was entirely random, due to the way helis were deployed- had no way of knowing when/where helis were deployed.

    this link mentions 20 DSHK 12.7 x 107 HMG's in the PIRA inventory
    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/ira/inside/weapons.html

    It's the DSHK's I have had in mind, but now you mention it, I vaguely remember the first incident you describe.

    I distinctly remember "reading between the lines" of reports at the time.


  • #2


    Youtube and wikipedia are your friend. Lots of stuff on there from all sides in the conflict. 50 cals, heavy Russian 12.7mm, GPMG's, barrack busters. Some of the heavies are filmed during attacks on helicopters and it all can be viewed on youtube, inc the DSHK's. Just put in the usual buzz words. South Armagh, bandit country.

    I know of an RAF Puma that was hit by a mk15 barrack buster either going in or coming out of Newtownhamilton. It was a miracle everybody got out of that alive, remember seeing in lying in afield on its side before it was recovered.

    There's was a very big hole in a wall at the square in Crossmaglen (XMG to some). I'm not sure if it's still there, It's the result of a .50 cal round which had gone through the body armour of a soldier that the round killed.

    Looking at the wall after that event every time you went out on foot patrol I'm sure wasn't great for morale.


  • #2


    As far as I know, the 0.50 cal, as an anti-personnel weapon was first fired in anger in NI, with devastating effect. As neilled says, its original role from early 1900's was anti-materiel.
    The Barratt was originally a civilian weapon, available around 1982.
    This weapon alone was not a game changer, of itself.
    The heli attacks are of much greater significance. Again, I refer to Charlie Wilson's War, where the US covertly supplied the Afghans with SAM's which were used in late 80's to take out Soviet helis. Writing was on the wall when Soviets could not deploy troops (had to use helis-large country)
    In NI, as before, land-based transport was largely abandoned due to extensive land mines and UK forces used helis almost exclusively...
    Hence, the arguments about these "forced landings"


  • #2


    Hi Klunk001,

    had a look on youtube and yes, the ITV report is the one I remember. The RTE documentary crew footage sparks a memory as well.

    I think you have to make your own mind up about whether a heli was downed or not.
    Looks like this is always going to be a moot point.


  • #2


    neilled wrote: »
    The British Army have always been content to loose people on training accidents and on operations, Northern Ireland was no exception and loosing a few enlisted men and junior officers would have not bothered them.


    This is simply not true. NO army worth its salt is 'content' as you put it, to lose [note spelling] a single man, either in action or in training.

    What an army does is to ACCEPT that casualties will most certainly occur in both activities - 'train hard, fight easy'.

    Your comment depicts a callousness that is more akin to that shown by any third world so-called militia.

    tac

    PS - the last soldier to die from the application of a .50cal rifle, L/Bdr Stephen Restorick, lived just up the road from me.


  • #2


    I suppose in some ways the .50 cal and 12.7mm were a game changer, but not a game winner. It's a fact that the IRA in that part of the world were very intent on shooting down as many military heli's as they could. It's also a fact the the British military took that threat very seriously.

    Being from that part of the world it was very obvious that British military heli's started to get a lot of "extras" bolted on, in and around the time claims were been made of the acquisition of SAM's and HMG's by the IRA. These "extras" could be seen on both AAC heli types, the Lynx and Gazelle. Not so much on the RAF Puma's and Wessex, but there all the same.

    Flight operation also changed. The aircraft either flew very high ( out of range from small arms fire ) or very, very low and with that very fast.
    "Flights of three" now became the norm. That is two AAC Lynx helicopter gunships providing top cover shadowing RAF Helis as they went about in the support helicopter role.

    The Puma that made the forced landing at Newtownhamilton was as the result of either a direct to indirect hit from a barrack buster damaging the tail rotor. I'm nearly sure it was departing at the time.

    Had the mortor exploded while the heli was on the pad embarking and disembarking troops it would have caused in all likelyhood a lot of fatalities with the loss of an airframe, possibly making the HMG'S redundant as an anti aircraft weapon in that part of the world.


  • #2


    Tac,

    You may be a little too trusting of the officers sitting in comfort directing troop movements - history for sure, but hardly ancient - think of the soldiers sent over the top in WW1.


  • #2


    smcgiff wrote: »
    Tac,

    You may be a little too trusting of the officers sitting in comfort directing troop movements - history for sure, but hardly ancient - think of the soldiers sent over the top in WW1.

    That was way back when, a hundred years next year, in fact, and throughout WW1, many regimental commanders - Colonels and Lt Colonels - went over the top with their men, and died alongside them.

    I was an NCO, SNCO and WO in the British Army - every rank from Private to Warrant Officer 1st Class over a period of sixteen and half years, and then served a further for sixteen years as an officer, and can tell you most sincerely that unless you led from the front, you wouldn't have lasted two minutes.

    In the Northern Ireland 'troubles', the subject of this rather odd thread, EVERY patrolling and or search/ATO unit on the ground was led by a Lt or 2/Lt, sometimes a Captain - taking the same risks as his men.

    Please let me know when you find any British Army officer 'content' to take casualties. :mad: x 10

    I'm waiting right here.

    tac


  • #2


    There are officers and there are officers, and I don't have the same faith in HQ command as you seem to have. I'm not picking on the BA here, it's just I think it's a little naive to think HQ would not risk men for a potential strategic gain. Even if only a slight chance of a gain.

    And humans haven't developed much in a 100 years, although I'd accept the BA is more professional now. It would have been hard not to.


  • #2


    smcgiff wrote: »
    There are officers and there are officers, and I don't have the same faith in HQ command as you seem to have. I'm not picking on the BA here, it's just I think it's a little naive to think HQ would not risk men for a potential strategic gain. Even if only a slight chance of a gain.

    And humans haven't developed much in a 100 years, although I'd accept the BA is more professional now. It would have been hard not to.

    You have still missed the point entirely.

    I never said that risk is not part of any potential military gain.

    What I said was the the British Army does not have people in positions of command who are content - if you look up the word to see what it actually means - to see casualties in either training or operations. Your obviously low opinion of the British Army should not allow you to mistake 'acceptance' for 'content'.

    I do not believe that this forum should be made a bandstand for anti-British feeling or apparent glee and delight in the fate of those who serve their country. If, however, this should be the case - and I look to you as a moderator to either confirm or deny it - then it would be best if I left you to it.

    tac


  • #2


    Any 50 cal round will penetrate any known body armour today,so its hard to protect yourself against it.
    So therefor a devastating weapon in the hands of a sniper.
    That is with a standard issue nato fmj round.
    However if you use the Raufoss MK 211 round,which is used on light armoured vehicles,aircrafts,helicopters the effects will be even more devestating.
    It expodes after penetration,and damages enemies behind walls,inside armoured vehicles,and ignites jetfuel if used against aircrafts.
    The international comitee of the red cross wanted this banned because of the damage done against personell,but is still being used by US snipers in Afghanistan.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raufoss_Mk_211


  • #2


    Tac,

    I've gone out of my way to emphasise this is not an excluisely BA issue. I'd go further and say YOU are one trying to make it such.

    In Vietnam, a war that went on for years, the highest level US casualty was at captain level, which may be an officer, but hardly high ranking. Yet, there were very few of even those killed. One of which was the father of a friend.

    If a point is being missed I suggest it's not by me.


  • #2


    smcgiff wrote: »
    In Vietnam, a war that went on for years, the highest level US casualty was at captain level, which may be an officer, but hardly high ranking.

    You'll want to be checking that one again. There's twelve U.S. General Officers on the Vietnam Memorial wall, including at least one, William Bond, who was killed by enemy small arms fire.


  • #2


    Donny5 wrote: »
    You'll want to be checking that one again. There's twelve U.S. General Officers on the Vietnam Memorial wall, including at least one, William Bond, who was killed by enemy small arms fire.

    Yip - came back to correct that, 9% of officers that died were above above warrant class. Oops.


Society & Culture